Obsessed With Service
He was “that nice young man” down the street who offered to take an elderly neighbor and her dog to the vet. Twenty-five years later, Rob Alexander ’88 is running an award-winning chauffeured transportation company that has never strayed from his original intent to offer outstanding customer service.
After graduating with a degree in American studies, Alexander set up business in his parents’ basement and pressed his graduation present—a 1988 Saab—into service. His business, Errands Plus, was just that. “I’d do anything for a buck,” laughs Alexander. “Grocery shopping. Drive senior citizens to doctor’s appointments. Run people’s errands. The turning point came in 1992 when we became a livery company.”
Today, RMA Worldwide operates the largest fleet of vehicles in the Washington metropolitan area. His clients include industry leaders, business executives, celebrities and politicians. Offshoot businesses include a shuttle company, a gas station, a taxicab company, and a worldwide network that serves over 600 cities across the globe. Now 220 employees strong, Alexander’s company has won every national award given in the industry.
How has Washington College factored into his success?
“The irony of it all is that I wasn’t a great student,” Alexander admits. “When I gave a speech last year at the Entrepreneurs Institute Conference, I opened with a picture of West Hall, then a picture of Miller Library, followed by a picture of my father. On one of his campus visits he looked out my window and remarked, ‘how can somebody live so close to the library and never get in there?’
“We’re not splitting atoms here,” Alexander says of his enterprise. My job is to make sure that RMA is a good place to work and that we continue to provide the best client experience. We’re obsessed with service. Everything’s for the client.”
One lesson he did take away from his college experience was the ability to communicate well. “Because of the breadth of my liberal arts education, I was able to recognize different opportunities as they came up,” Alexander says.
RMA grew by word of mouth—Alexander got referrals from one of the regulars he drove to the train station every morning. RMA grew by offering a standardized product—a big contract with Marriott taught him how to handle a high-volume business. And RMA continues to grow through innovation. “We have leveraged our resources to provide cutting-edge technology,” says Alexander who, back in the day, installed car phones for his clients. “Now all of our vehicles are equipped with GPS software and mini iPads.”
Safety and security are also part of the service package now. “On any given day we have clients in six or seven countries abroad,” Alexander says. “When a client gets off that plane they know they will have a professional chauffeur ready to seamlessly take them wherever they need to go. Our software system has the capability to automatically send an alert to the assistant to advise on-site, in-vehicle and drop-off statuses. We take the worry out of ground travel.”
Alexander continues to look for ways to enhance customer service and provide better opportunities for the people who work for him. “I’m never satisfied with the status quo,” he says.
In that sense, he’s not that different from the college kid who offered his neighbor a ride.
“It comes down to determination—being tenacious and wanting it bad enough. I worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for the first seven years, because that’s what I had to do to be successful.”